ARLEE - Arlee residents are taking another step in their continued fight against a proposed gravel pit and asphalt plant in the Jocko Valley.
The group of neighbors formed a non-profit organization called the Friends of the Jocko to prevent the gravel pit from being developed on agricultural land and the land of Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d'Oreilles Tribes.
Citing concerns about noise, lighting, water and air pollution, traffic, and proximity to local schools, the group created a GoFundMe account to help with legal fees as they challenge the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) decision to green-light the industrial development.
The 157.1 acres of land to be developed is called the Marvin Rehbein Site and is located off US Highway 93 North on the east side of the intersection of White Coyote Road.
The Marvin Rehbein Site has had an Opencut permit associated with it since 2001, and to date, has never been mined, according to a statement from Riverside Contracting released exclusively to MTN News.
Riverside Contracting, Inc. says it applied to re-permit the Marvin Rehbein Site in April 2022. The company was notified by the DEQ on Monday, April 3, 2023, that it complied with the requirements of Montana Opencut Mining Law and received a new permit for this site.
- View Riverside Contracting Inc. Standard Environmental Assessment here.
- View Riverside Contracting Inc. Standard Permit here.
Arlee neighbors have been outspoken since the start of the permit process for the plant site in hopes of preventing this piece of land from being developed in their backyards.
The site is also near the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas, which is a popular tourist destination on the Flathead Indian Reservation due to its peaceful and quiet environment.
- RELATED: Outcry of opposition from Arlee neighbors following gravel pit, asphalt plant permit issued for development
The Friends of the Jocko have until June 3, 2023, to file a lawsuit against the Montana DEQ. The group says neighbors raised concerns in the draft environmental assessment which were not addressed prior to the permit approval.
They’re urging the government agency to take an in-depth look at the Montana Environmental Policy Act, which the neighbors believe was violated.
Their first step was securing a law firm to help with the legal battle. The group started a GoFundMe account in May 2023 to help with legal fees.
“This is an ongoing and expensive situation. And that’s where WE NEED YOUR HELP and support,” the GoFundMe account says.
The group’s goal is to raise $8,000. As of May 25, the group has raised $770.
If you would like to help the Friends of the Jocko in their fight against this proposed plant from being developed, here’s the link to donate.
Riverside Contracting, Inc. released the below statement to MTN News:
"The Marvin Rehbein site has had an Opencut permit associated with it since 2001, and to date, has never been mined.
Riverside Contracting, Inc. applied to re-permit the Marvin Rehbein site in April 2022 and we were notified by the Montana DEQ on Monday, April 3, 2023 that we have complied with the requirements of Montana Opencut Mining Law and received a new permit for this site.
Riverside Contracting performs highway construction work for the Montana Department of Transportation and relies on sites like the Marvin Rehbein site to provide materials for these highway projects. We currently do not have any immediate plans to begin operations at this site. The re-permitting of this site allows Riverside Contracting to preserve our ability to provide competitive bids to the State of Montana for future highway projects along US Highway 93 in the Jocko Valley."